Many of us have seen the cycle of Start, Stop. We start an initiative, and it loses momentum then stops. Later, we do this again. Still later, again. Over time our employees lose any enthusiasm or interest in what they are doing. Ultimately this Start, Stop cycle causes disengagement of our workforce which leads to employee turnover.
Why does this happen? Why do we start things and never finish? More importantly, what can we do to change the behaviors of Start, Stop? While there are many different reasons for this, a few are:
- Lack of Team Involvement – Whether your company unofficially yet traditionally views any initiative execution as something a select group does or as something done because the boss or owner said so, both views tend to derail good initiative or strategy execution.
- Lack of clarity – Simply put no one seems to fully understand why we are doing what we are doing. You may have told them but did they understand why?
- Inability to make a decision – In my experience, this is a common reason. No one wants to decide on In many instances no one wants to make any decision because “it’s not my job,” “I don’t want to get into trouble by making that decision.” Or similar reasons.
- Poor Prioritization – while in part this can also be a lack of clarity, the ability to understand what is important, or more important, is crucial for implementation or strategy execution. This commonly shows up as “I have too many other things to do,” and as a result, nothing gets completed (done).
- Little or no Accountability – A lack of accountability in the planning process leads to problems and sometimes complete failures in execution. This, in turn, leads to no execution, little execution or inability to make decisions.
If those are the common why’s for things not getting done as it relates to strategy or initiative execution, what can we do about it?
What can we do about it?
Generally, a 5-phase approach can be used to develop a roadmap to the execution of initiatives or strategy. I prefer one that I learned through SixSigma. In simple terms these phases are:
Phase 1 – Explain – People do things if they understand their value. Describing who the customer is and how they receive value from the strategy or initiative is important. Describing or demonstrating the keep or core processes involved is also crucial.
Phase 2 – Communicate – The top levels of the business must decide on a strategy. They, in turn, must describe their objectives to other levels of leadership who in turn must execute the strategy or initiative. It is critical that leadership define the strategy to this level of detail before attempting to communicate it to the business.
Phase 3 – Measure – In order for the strategy to be made actionable, measurement systems and data must be developed. If the strategy is achieved, what will the business deliver to its customers? How will the process perform compared to now? This could be as simple as a timeline with key deliverable dates. More often it is communicated in terms of dollars and cents. How much can we save our business and our customers if we do this? No matter the action, we must determine that it can be measured in a manner that demonstrates value to the business.
Phase 4 – Commit – This step is designed to create an organization that aligns strategy and initiatives with the entire organization. Ensuring the right people and resources are made available is a necessary component of this. Other components of this could be:
- Design appropriate process performance reporting
- Link process performance to individual performance management
Phase 5 – Do – Ensuring the business standardizes its approach to strategy or initiative execution is important. This standardization builds a culture of execution while ensuring that all members of the business make contributions that they know and understand can be executed. This can only come from a business culture that commits to execution.
Over time the cycle of start, stop will create stagnation in your business. Stagnation leads to a lack of innovation which in turn causes businesses to fail. Developing an execution strategy will drive your business to greater possibilities while engaging your workforce in the success of the business. Following the simple steps in this article, getting your workforce involved and when needed obtaining external help will drive success for your business.